Vivaldi: Concertos RV 93, 108, 265, 435, 532, 540 & Trio, RV 82, arr. for guitar

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Concertos RV 93, 108, 265, 435, 532, 540 & Trio, RV 82, arr. for guitar
PERFORMER: Angel Romero (guitar, director), Lito Romero (guitar), Norbert Blume (viola d’amore), John Constable (harpsichord), Kenneth Sillito (violin), Graham Sheen (bassoon)Academy of St Martin in the Fields
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68291 2 DDD
The guitar has, until relatively recently, remained at the periphery of mainstream instrumental writing, and guitarists have often had to raid the repertoires of other instruments to expand their own. Here, Angel Romero – continuing in the tradition of other Spanish virtuosi such as Segovia – tackles Vivaldi. There is an aptness to that, as the transcriptions of Vivaldi’s music have a long and honourable history: Bach arranged several of the concertos, rendering them for organ and harpsichord solo.

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The most obvious source of transcription are those pieces originally written for other plucked string instruments, such as the lute and mandolin – the relatively bare textures of the C major Trio for violin, lute and basso continuo are especially suited to the timbre of the guitar. Romero also shows that the guitar can be surprisingly versatile and can plausibly replace violin or flute in the faster movements. More problematic are the slow movements, such as the Largo from RV 265, in which the guitar cannot sustain notes and seems to lack a degree of sensitivity. An interesting disc, but one, I suspect, that will appeal mainly to those with a specific interest in the guitar. William Humphreys-Jones